UFC Fight Night 71: Mir vs Duffee- Prelim Predictions
135lbs- Scott Jorgensen (15-10-0) vs Manny Gamburyan (17-9-0)
In a bout promoted to the main card, Scott Jorgensen makes his return to the Bantamweight division when he takes on Manvel ‘the Anvil’ Gamburyan. Jorgensen is coming off a loss to Wilson Reis capping a 1-3 run at Flyweight- he is 2-6 in his last 8 fights. Gamburyan earned a submission win over Cody Gibson in his 135 pound debut, improving his record to 3-1-0 1NC over his last 5 fights.
Jorgensen, a former WEC Bantamweight title challenger is returning to the division for the first time since mid-2013. Gamburyan is fighting for the second time at 135 pounds.
They both stand 5’5″, but Manny will have a slight 1″ reach advantage.
A 3rd Dan Black belt in Judo and BJJ Purple belt, Gamburyan is 7-1 in fights ending by submission. His signature sub is the guillotine choke, accounting for 4 of his wins. He lands 3.23 takedowns per fight at a 38% completion rate while defending 70% of his opponent’s tries.
Scotty is also a grappling based fighter- an NCAA Division 1 wrestler and BJJ Purple belt. He has landed 20 takedowns in his last 4 wins, but he has struggled of late to find success with his wrestling conceding the takedown battle by a count of 12-2 over his last 4 defeats.
Jorgensen could experience a bit of physical boost not having to cut down to 125 pounds, but his durability is still a major question mark. He has been rocked several times of late and his submission defense appears to be lacking. Manny has the ability to make him tap and while he isn’t an overly technical striker he still throws hard enough to inflict damage. Look for Manny to shutdown Scotty’s wrestling, score a few takedowns of his own, and do some damage with his striking- my prediction is Manny Gamburyan to defeat Scott Jorgensen by submission.
145lbs- Sam Sicilia (14-5-0) vs Yaotzin Meza (20-10-0 1NC)
The fight that will headline the prelims features Sam Sicilia taking on Yaotzin Meza in the Featherweight division. Meza took a decision win over Damian Stasiak for his second UFC win, he is now 2-2-0 1NC in the UFC. Sicilia has been alternating wins and losses over his last 6 fights, most recently knocking out Akira Corassani.
Meza will stand 1″ taller, but he will have a marked 7″ reach advantage. Sicilia is 5 years younger.
The former TUF contestant is known for his power punching based attack. He has won 8 times by knockout, including 3 of his 4 UFC wins. He has averaged 3.13 SLpM compared to a concerning 3.62 SApM. He has shown improvements of late getting the better of the exchanges in 4 of his last 5 fights.
Meza’s success has been the product of his grappling skills. He has 7 wins by submission, 1 in the UFC, and earned his win over Stasiak largely on takedowns and ground control. His durability is a bit of a question mark as he has been stopped in 6 of his 9 losses- 3 subs and 3 TKO/KOs.
With 3 of Sicilia’s 5 losses coming by submission, Meza’s focus should be on putting him on the mat. Unfortunately, the MMA Lab member has had limited success with his takedowns landing just 1.37 per fight at a 38% completion. He largely relies on his adversary to engage him in close and then try to turn the grappling exchange in his favour. Sam’s TDD is respectable at 60% and his striking heavy focus should aid him here. Look for Sam to sprawl and brawl his way to victory, backing up Meza with his power and eventually landing a big shot- my prediction is Sam Sicilia to defeat Yaotzin Meza by TKO.
135lbs- #13 Jessica Andrade (12-4-0) vs Sarah Moras (4-2-0)
Women’s Bantamweights collide as Jessica Andrade takes on Canadian Sarah Moras. Andrade is coming off an upset loss to main card competitor Marion Reneau, ending a 3 fight winning streak. Moras made a successful UFC debut besting Alexis Dufresne by decision and also owns a 2012 TKO stoppage of Julianna Pena.
The Canadian hasn’t fought in a year plus a week, making for a long layoff following her debut. She will stand 6″ taller and have a 5″ reach advantage over Andrade.
Andrade is a bulldog, carrying a torrid striking pace of 6.76 SLpM. He owns 4 wins by knockout and blasted Rosi Sexton pillar to post on route to a decision win. She is equally as dangerous on the mat with 6 wins by sub, 5 by her signature guillotine.
Moras, a TUF 18 semi-finalist, gain some significant experience on the show beyond the 6 pro bouts on her record. A grappling first fighter, despite owning just a single submission win, she also tapped Peggy Moran in the TUF quarter-finals. She won her debut primarily on her work from her back, as her opponent routinely took her down but did nothing from the top.
Moras appears to have some issues with her defensive wrestling. She was routinely taking down by Dufresne who was extremely exhausted and she has struggled in other fights in similar fashion. Andrade should have the advantage on the feet with her aggressive high output attack forcing Sarah to routinely backup. Moras’s size could be a factor, but it could also work against her with Andrade able to establish a lower base in pursuit of the takedown. Andrade made a mistake her last fight and should motivated to return to the win column, so my prediction is Jessica Andrade to defeat Sarah Moras by submission.
135lbs- Rani Yahya (20-8-0 1NC) vs Masanori Kanehara (24-11-5)
In the Bantamweight division, Rani Yahya squares off with Sengoku veteran Masanori Kanehara. Yahya ended a 2 fight saga with Johnny Bedford, following up a No Contest with a 2nd round submission win- he has won 4 of his last 6 fights. Kanehara debuted with a win over Alex Caceres and baring a disqualification loss he could be riding an 8 fight winning streak.
Both fighters are returning to action after roughly 10 months on the shelf. This will be the Brazilian’s 3rd fight back at 135 pounds, he went 4-2 as a UFC Featherweight.
Kanehara presents a well rounded attack. A BJJ Black belt with 10 wins by submission, he has also recorded 8 wins by knockout. Demoing his striking power in his debut, he tagged and backed up Caceres on a couple of occasions. He has amassed a significant number of knockout (4) and submissions (3) losses over his career which is bit concerning.
More of a specialist, Yahya’s focus will be on grappling. He is a talent ground fighter with 16 of his 20 wins coming by way of submissions. A 2nd degree BJJ Black belt, the Brazilian utilizes a wide variety of arm and choke based submissions. At 2.88 takedowns per fight, 1 completion is often enough to setup a submission or establish lengthy top control.
This fight really comes down to whether or not Yahya can take Kanehara down and keep him down. Against Bedford, as soon as he was able to tie up he started working towards an advantageous position. Even if he can’t score a takedown, is ability to pull guard and than sweep makes him a constant threat. Kanehara should get the better of the striking, but is tendency to stand very upright will make him an easy target for Rani to shoot on. The East to West travel factor for Kanehara is a concern, as so is his 3 submission losses, so my prediction is Rani Yahya to defeat Masanori Kanehara by submission.
170lbs- Igor Araujo (25-7-0 1NC) vs Sean Strickland (15-1-0)
In the Welterweight division, Igor Araujo takes on Sean ‘Tarzan’ Strickland. Araujo fell to George Sullivan in his most recent outing, the first loss of his UFC career and ending his 6 fight winning streak as well. Strickland is also coming off a loss, the first of his career, dropping his UFC record to 2-1.
The Brazilian will hold a slight 1″ reach advantage, both men stand 6’1″, and Strickland is 11 years younger. ‘Tarzan’ will be competing at 170 pounds for the second time in his career.
His takedown numbers have not been good (1.18 @ 18%), but Araujo is a BJJ Black belt with 17 of 25 wins coming by submission- 7 by armbar. With minimal takedown success, he has made up for it by using his opponents’ willingness to grapple and then orchestrating sweeps and counters.
Strickland is well-rounded and an overall solid athlete. He is a competent grappler with a quartet of submissions, but he would be best served to avoid the mat game at all costs. The biggest knock on Strickland has been his lack of activity in his last 2 fights, where he was primarily stuck on the outside and allowed his opponent to be busier.
There are several x-factors at play in this fight. At 34 years old and with 33 fights, Araujo is in the twilight of his career. He is also returning after 10 months on the shelf and there are some questions about his chin with 3 losses by knockout. Strickland is fighting for the second time at Welterweight so he should be more acclimatized to the weightclass and required cut. He is also coming off the first loss of his career, which can revitalize a fighter by forcing them to address potential issues. Strickland can not allow Araujo to drag him into a grappling bout. Look for the American to use his jab and movement to maintain distance and eventually open up as Igor becomes more desperate to get the fight to the floor- my prediction is Sean Strickland to defeat Igor Araujo by TKO.
185lbs- Kevin Casey (9-3-0) vs Ildemar Alcantara (21-7-0)
Fight #2 of the prelims takes place in the Middleweight division as ‘King’ Kevin Casey returns to action against Ildemar ‘Marajó’ Alcantara. Casey is coming off a win turned ‘No Contest’ over Bubba Bush that temporarily extended his winning streak to 4 in a row. Alcantara was last seen earning a split decision win over Richardson Moreira, improving his UFC record to 4-2.
Casey has been out of action for just over a year after failing a drug test and being suspended as a result.
Alcantara is 3″ taller and will have a slight 1″ reach advantage. He is fighting for the second time at Middleweight after fighting 4 times at 170 pounds.
A BJJ Black belt, Casey’s success largely hinges on his ground game. He has a trio of submission wins and a couple top position TKOs. He also picked up a RNC victory in his only TUF 17 win. He is 3-3 in fights ending via knockout.
Alcantara melds together a pretty well-rounded attack. He has recorded 10 wins by knockout along with 6 submission wins. He is also a BJJ Black belt, averaging 2.36 takedowns at a 68% completion rate.
Casey has just a single win after the 1st round, which happened back in 2008. His gas tanked is pretty questionable and coming off a year long layoff it most likely won’t be any better. Alcantara’s defensive wrestling has been pretty decent and he has yet to be submitted over 28 fights. On the feet, he will have a marked advantage. Casey could catch a quick submission, but even if he is able to control the early action on the mat all indications are that he will fade as the fight progresses. Alcantara will be cautious early on, force Casey to work hard for his takedowns, and wear him out in the process- my prediction is Ildemar Alcantara to defeat Kevin Casey by TKO.
170lbs- Andrew Craig (9-3-0) vs Lyman Good (18-3-0 1NC)
In the opening bout of the night, Andrew Craig takes on UFC debutant and former Bellator champion Lyman Good. Craig has lost back to back bouts and has just a single UFC win in his last 4 fights. Good has won 4 of his last 5, including a submission win over Nah-Shon Burrell- the only blemish during his current run is a 2014 No Contest.
Good is replacing the injured Edgar Garcia with roughly 3 weeks to prep. He last fought just 2 months ago.
Craig is returning after a 13 month layoff and is making his Welterweight debut. He will have a 1″ height advantage and 3″ reach advantage.
Finishing his Bellator run with an 8-3 record, Good has a solid record with 8 wins by knockout and 3 submission. He has some kickboxing experience and is a capable ground fighter. Competing at 185 pounds on TUF 19, he lost in the elimination round. His defeat was largely the result his struggles to defend against his opponent’s wrestling.
Craig doesn’t appear to have any one dominant skillset. He has 3 wins by knockout compared to just a single submission and a 5-2 record in decisions. With a -0.23 striking exchange rate, he has had trouble keeping pace with opponents on the feet and has only found minimal success on the mat. He is a BJJ Brown belt.
Good is debuting on short notice and Craig is cutting down a division after a 13 month layoff. Both can be difficult scenarios. With Good a veteran fighter that has recently fought, he should be impacted less. Craig has had issues with fighters putting him on his back and keeping him there. He has also struggled at times with more dynamic strikers. Good has the skills to replicate those struggles. Craig needs to turn this bout into a brawl, but concerns with how is body will respond at the new weight could prevent that. Good remains busier on the feet and holds some key top control time- my prediction is Lyman Good to defeat Andrew Craig by decision.